Safely Minding the Gap Crossing Bridges
Earlier this year the Watts Technical Solutions team was approached by an authority responsible for the general maintenance and refurbishment of a major bridge crossing with a problem. The authority needed to replace the coverings of the expansion joints of the bridge platforms.
These joints, called bridge plates, go across the full width of both carriageways of the bridge and need to sustain the wear of the continuous traffic flows safely in all conditions.
Safe hard-wearing solutions
The Watts Technical Solutions team was approached as part of the process to identify suitable suppliers of these bridge plates. Polyurethane with its hard-wearing and flexible characteristics was seen to be an ideal material in which to make bridge plates.
Of the suppliers approached, Watts were chosen to develop this replacement product for testing based not only upon its designs and technical understanding, but also on the fulfilment of the environmental need to reduce landfill by the recycling of the steel and rubber in the existing parts.
A key technical challenge was to ensure that the finished bridge plates complied with vehicle skid testing in both wet and dry conditions. This required Watts Technical Solutions team to develop a modified product including the addition of extra grip for the surface of the material without impacting significantly on its wear characteristics and then defining a new production process to optimise that surface. The result was a product which surpassed the performance of the current product and its rivals in both the wet and dry conditions.
Technical Director and leader of the Technical Solutions team, Richard Brookes commented “The biggest technical challenge was to develop a suitable road surface on the polyurethane bridge plate so that it would dispel water effectively. Our solution provides significant performance improvement in both wet and dry conditions, while ensuring that the plate remained a low wear product made through quality controlled production.“